Honorary doctorate for indefatigable ancient historian extraordinaire, Ronald Ridley

On 26 September, long-serving University of Melbourne academic Ronald Ridley (third from left), Professor Emeritus in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Macquarie University’s Department of Ancient History. With over thirty tenured academics, the Department remains Australia’s leading centre for the study of the ancient world, teaching from ancient Egypt through early Christianity. The citation, read by Macquarie Vice-Chancellor Bruce Dowton, acknowledged Professor Emeritus Ridley as “Australia's most active, productive, and internationally connected researcher in the field of Ancient History”. Professor Dowton also acknowledged Professor Ridley's scholarly achievements of over twenty monographs and more than one hundred published chapters and articles, spanning early Dynastic Egypt, classical Greece, the Roman Republic, Late Antiquity, historiography and archaeology in early modern Europe, and the history of Melbourne and its past ancient historians.

One of his standout monographs, The Eagle and the Spade (Cambridge 1992), produced the first comprehensive inquiry into the first large-scale archaeological programme in Rome, which took place during the Napoleonic occupation of the city from 1809 to 1814. This year alone, he published no less than three hefty tomes: Volume 1 of Magick City: Travellers to Rome from the Middle Ages to 1900 (London, Pallas Athena), the most complete anthology thus far of travellers’ writings about Rome from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century; The Prince of Antiquarians. Francesco de Ficoroni (Roma, Edizioni Quasar), a biography of one Rome’s leading antiquarians and a central figure in the antiquarian life of Europe in the first half of the 18th century, relied on by aristocrats, Church figures and collectors, and the leading guide to the early visitors of the Grand Tour; and Rome, Twenty-Nine Centuries, A Chronological Guide (Roma, Gangemi), a new kind of guide to Rome, organized by century rather than by district. Amongst his current book projects features a new assessment of the revolutionary Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, to be published in the foreseeable future with the The American University in Cairo Press.

Professor Ridley (MA Syd.) began his career as a researcher and much revered teacher and supervisor at the University of Melbourne in the then History Department in 1962 before becoming joining the faculty as a Lecturer in 1965. After being awarded with a DLitt by international examination for contributions to learning in 1992, he was appointed to a Personal Chair in ancient history in June 1997 and eventually became a Professor Emeritus following his retirement in 2005.

He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (est. 1707) and the Royal Historical Society (both London), the Pontifical Academy of Roman Archaeology (Rome), and the Australian Academy of the Humanities.